Surviving Head Trauma
A Guide to Recovery Written by
a Traumatic Brain Injury Patient
By Terry Smith
My skull was crushed. I was dead. When I came back to life, reality became a psychedelic dream inside billions of bolts of lightening happening everywhere at the same time. This unimaginable constant sound inside my head still trumpets like a symphonic horn section gone mad forever. Only those who hear the sound understand this mysterious reality medically called Tinnitus (defined as: a continual noise in the ear, e.g., a ringing or roaring, usually caused by damage to the hair cells of the inner ear).
If you hear the phantom, become accustomed to its presence and your loss of hearing. Some of us are unable to think, speak, walk or feed ourselves. Some of us are alive because of machines. Others of us are walking, talking, producing, and writing phenomenon’s of life. We head injured exist in great numbers and are growing. This current war in the Middle East has produced in the USA, as of this writing date reported by The Department of Veteran’s Affairs, more than 170,000 head traumas. This is in addition to the usual civilian millions per year. This story is written to help deal with the growth rate of staggering deaths and mental deficiency in our world; both from accidents and combat.
This book is for those who have experienced this skull-awakening shock and for those who love one of us and are dealing with a mystical new person. Doctors will also hopefully be encouraged from something learned. Smith and I were in a ghastly truck accident at United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS), Quantico, Virginia, 20 July 1984. I finally understood what he meant after I was hurled at 65 miles an hour from a 3-ton tumbling truck. He talked about sacred life when he was alive. Now, I’m sorry that I did not always listen. I was too busy in my physical real world to hear his theoretical, theological, metaphysical, supernatural philosophy.
Sometimes, you can see the end of life coming in a long grave illness. Dying can also take less than a whole second. Being alive, heroic and healthy with a gleaming future can turn into death before the complete blink of an eye. People die with open eyes everyday. Rose and Smith did not see death coming when they died before blinking. Rose was from California. He dreamed of a sparkling military future. Smith and I were from Florida. We, too, were well adorned for a brilliant star filled career. Smith said that he would one day remove his stars and become Chief in Command of The United States of America. The President. I have no doubt that he would have done just that. That’s the kind of person he was. Sometimes, though, life does not always unfold the way you plan, no matter how ambitious, talented, or genius you are.
On route 619 at 13 hundred hours that July day, a three-ton troop carrier was bouncing around the curves of Quantico extraordinarily fast. Twenty Marine Officer Candidates in the back of the truck were gravely aware of the excessive speed. When the vehicle swerved off the hard narrow winding road onto the rough narrow shoulder, unsuspecting young men saw disaster’s eyes in flashing horror. Three tons of steel traveling in excess of sixty-five miles per hour flipped four and a half times on the unbreakable road. One hundred and seventy-nine feet later, the trampled vehicle came to an upside-down calamitous freeze. The top half of the truck was crushed like a clay toy. Only the burning fire of the canvas top and the remaining spinning wheels could be heard.
Slowly, human sounds of moan and pain came from bodies strewn along the path and inside the wreckage. Nature took a deep breath of silence. The fire was extinguished by those who were thrown yet strong enough to use uniforms to smother the flames. A part of myself died that day.
To learn more about Terry, click here.
By Terry Smith
Published date: October 2009